After leaving the world of full-time work, you have more freedom than ever to pursue your interests and to enrich your time through lifelong learning. Continued learning throughout adulthood is an important aspect of living a life committed to wellness. Regularly engaging the brain is shown to improve mental health, much like physical exercise increases the health of your heart.
Cognitive fitness is not the only benefit. Individuals who make a habit of continued learning experience a greater level of self-fulfillment, according to Nancy Merz Nordstrom, M. Ed., the author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.
Lifelong learners also experience numerous benefits related to their social lives. The social benefits of classroom studies and engagement in group activities are enriching at any age.
The Social Benefits of Lifelong Learning
Learning can be a social event, as so much of our knowledge is gleaned from those we surround ourselves with. In fact, 41 percent of adults over the age of 50 report they prefer to learn a new skill by employing the help of a friend, family member, or coworker.
Because of the social nature of learning, adults are likely to experience several social benefits:
- The desire to learn can encourage you to seek out relationships with those who may be able to teach you a new skill, or connect with people who have a shared interest.
- By becoming involved in learning programs, adults can open up their lives to new friendships they would not have encountered outside of these programs. These new friendships may provide very pleasant camaraderie and companionship.
- By participating in learning programs and classes, you broaden your network of connections.
- Continued learning often takes the form of actively engaging in the community. As a result, the community benefits from the experience of older adults.
- Many adults choose to learn through community service. Sharing skills acquired over the years can benefit nonprofit organizations that depend on volunteers to achieve their mission.
Choosing Learning Activities with Social Benefits
There are many enriching and engaging learning activities to choose from. Pursuing activities you are passionate about or have always wanted to try is a great way to begin.
Additionally, if the social aspect of lifelong learning is what attracts you to new activities, look into activities that bring groups of people together. Such activities could include:
- volunteering within your community
- joining a book club
- auditing a class on your specific area of interest
- participating in exercise classes
If you’re interested in traveling near or far, an organized travel group, like Road Scholar, is a great way to learn about the world around you while enjoying meaningful conversation with other adults as you explore.
As you leave the workforce, you can look forward to a time filled with rich learning experiences and fulfilling friendships. Always keep in mind the words of Albert Einstein, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”